ASPIRE: Autism Support Project: Information, Resources, Empowerment

Guelph Services for the Autistic, thanks to the generous financial support of Waterloo Wellington Autism Services, is pleased to announce the launch of ASPIRE: Autism Support Project: Information, Resources, Empowerment. The project will run for 20 months, beginning in August 2002. There are two main parts of the project.

First, we will record an updated picture of the situations and support needs of adults with Autism in Waterloo and Wellington regions. This will involve conducting summary and more detailed surveys, which can provide information about the numbers of adults and teenagers in these regions who have Autism, their level of need, the kinds of support they have now, their goals for the future, and the kinds of support needed to make those goals achievable.  There has been no such survey for many years, and much has changed in the meanwhile. The results of this survey will be presented in a report which will provide essential information for all those involved in meeting needs and providing supports for people with Autism, whether these be government agencies, non-governmental organizations, or support groups.

The second part of the project will involve helping families contacted during the survey who are ready to begin the process of planning for the future of the disabled member of the family. The families of people disabled by Autism typically are already very stretched for time and experience considerable stress in their day-to-day existence, which means they are not able to devote a lot of time and energy to researching long-term options.  GSA wants to do all we can to make information available to families and individuals in as convenient a way as possible, and to provide support in the early, time-consuming stages of making a long-range plan and beginning its implementation. However, GSA is an entirely voluntary organization, all of whose members have busy professional lives and family commitments of their own (indeed, many GSA members have disabled children of their own or are themselves disabled). The launching of ASPIRE means that GSA will be able some help in organizing this crucial stage of outreach to the families who need our support. In particular, ASPIRE will involve providing individualized and small group counseling on what particular families and friends of individuals with Autism can do in the present and near future in our region.

One goal of ASPIRE is to draw on the experience gained in this project to develop templates and models which will make the process of planning easier for families, friends and support agencies. ASPIRE is a project which will last only a limited time, while adolescents with Autism will continue to grow into adults with Autism, and the families of these individuals will continue to need help with planning. These templates are one way we may continue to offer assistance in some form after ASPIRE has ended. Moreover, we hope to be able to share these templates and models with other groups around the province that are interested in helping adults with Autism to lead lives which are as independent and fulfilling as possible.

Interested in ASPIRE?
If you are an adult or older teenager (16 years or over) with autism spectrum disorders in Wellington or Waterloo Region, or are supporting such an adult, we urge you to complete the survey at the OAARSN website at http://www.ont-autism.uoguelph.ca/aansurveys-2002.shtml. Or you could request a paper copy of the survey by leaving a phone message, with your name, address and phone number at 519-821-7424. If you need assistance to complete the survey, that can be arranged. Please tell any other individual, family or support group about ASPIRE and the new needs survey.

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